Hen and stags: A night to remember

Forget boozy blowouts, strippers and L-plates. A host of classier choices mean your hen or stag do doesn’t have to be an evening you’d rather forget, says Alice-Azania Jarvis

We’ll probably never know whether or not Kate Moss and friends really worked their way through 120 bottles of rum on day one of her hen weekend. Still, photos of the party in action confirm one thing – this was an event of bacchanalian proportions. Pink hummer limos, gold buggies and no shortage of refreshments.

For once, though, the supermodel might be behind the curve. Whether it’s a sign of the times or a straightforward case of L-plate fatigue, the boozy, misbehaving hen party of recent years is looking increasingly démodé. Ditto the stag. “The age of the average bride is higher than it used to be,” says Miranda Eason, editor of You and Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Brides. “Couples have done the boozy nights out. These days it’s more about making memories.”


Learn something useful

To celebrate her final days of freedom, Lily Allen was given a private cooking lesson by Gordon Ramsay. Joined by a small group of friends, she was then treated to a meal at the chef’s Savoy Grill restaurant. “That’s exactly the sort of thing we’re seeing more of,” says Eason. “It’s a shared experience; something the girls will remember for a long time.” It’s not just high-end cooking lessons that the modern hen is enjoying. At the Shu Uemura boutique in London’s Covent Garden, groups can receive lessons in applying make-up from the store’s immaculatelyqualified staff. “It’s something Mr Uemura started back in the Sixties,” explains senior artist Mei Rees. Prices range from £30 to £60 – though the full amount is then redeemable against any products which they buy. Shuuemura.co.uk

Arts & crafts

“When it comes to throwing a hen party, you need to remember that not everyone necessarily knows each other,” says Jennifer Pirtle, founder of the Make Lounge. “Craft offers the guests an opportunity to get to know each other without that first encounter being an alcohol-fuelled meeting in a nightclub.” The Make Lounge has been catering to hen parties since 2007, offering afternoon sessions where guests can learn to make anything from fascinators to jewellery. Classes last between twoand- a-half and four hours and get booked up long in advance. Particularly popular is the so-called “Fancy Pants” knicker-customising session. “It’s a real way of bonding the group and at the end of the day they get to take something home.” Themakelounge.com


Dine finely

Amongst hens, enjoying a foodie treat – be it a retro tea party or a slap-up meal – has been a trend for some time. It seems the boys are following suit. Recently, Kate Moss’s fiancé Jamie Hince toasted his impending nuptials with a meal at Shoreditch’s chi-chi Les Trois Garcons before heading to St Tropez for a bit of quiet in the sunshine – quite a contrast to his bride’s all-out affair. But Hince isn’t alone. Before marrying model Lara Stone, David Walliams exercised similar restraint, dining at Nobu before enjoying a few quite ones at the nearby Met Bar.

Song and dance

Karaoke has long been a staple at stag and hen dos across the country – though, increasingly, brides are opting for a sing-along with a difference. “We’ve seen a lot of Glee-inspired singing and dancing lessons recently,” says Eason. Other popular options are Grease- or Dirty Dancing-themed dance classes. “It’s about doing something more interesting than a night out.” For those with showbiz ambitions, recording studios are offering hens the chance to record their very own album. At Anita’s Music in Edinburgh, hen parties are given the option of recording their own covers album, complete with a track listing of their own design (Anitamusic.co.uk), while Newcastle’s Broadwater studio offers a dedicated Hen Party package for £250. Broadwaterstudios.com

Survival of the Fittest

“Canyoning is without doubt our most popular activity,” says Mark Soanes, a director at Call of the Wild, which offers adventure weekends for stags at the Brecon Beacons National Park. “It’s an adrenaline rush and the scenery is absolutely stunning.” The typical weekend chez Soanes involves two activities, plus accommodation and food. “We’re seeing more and more people looking for something better value than just sitting in a bar. They want something they can go and talk about when it comes to the wedding.” Naturally, hen parties are welcome at Call of the Wild, too – and if two days of sport sounds a bit much, there is the option of spending the second day being pampered. Callofthewild.co.uk

Wine down

“We’ve been offering wine tasting stag and hen parties for three years,” says Nicola Paradis, of Paris wine bar O Chateau. During summer, the bar’s dedicated workshops are in high demand amongst betrothed Brits who come for a two-hour session. “We take them through six French wines, including one champagne and discuss the type of grape, the region, show them how to read the label.” If desired, the bar can provide food, as well as the option of a champagne cruise. “People love it – it’s a halfway point between a bit of culture and being a bit drunk at the end of the day.” O-chateau.com